You probably remember College ACB because of the uproar it caused all over the nation. It was founded in 2008 by Andrew Mann from Johns Hopkins and Aaron Larner from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. College ACB (“Anonymous Confession Board”) was a platform for students from around the country to post on their university’s board; the ACB provided a great tool for peers to share input on classes and other thoughts on life at the school, but it also allowed them to very publicly slander the people they didn’t like. Users could post whatever, whenever, and they could do so with complete anonymity. When an offensive post was flagged, there was little anyone could do to get it removed without some mysterious number of reports that would automatically delete the comment from the board. But that was just for one comment. So the rest of the 95 posts under the “Biggest sluts on campus” thread? Those would have to go through the same long process to get removed. By the time a person who had been humiliated on College ACB had time to rally their friends and find enough people to report a post about them, everyone at the school had already read it.
As you can imagine, several schools fought back. A Cornell Daily Sun writer did exactly that in an article called “Why We Should All Hate College ACB.” Since 2009, UVA’s The Cavalier Daily and Duke’s The Chronicle are just two of many journals that openly bashed College ACB for its allowance of cyber bullying. With all of the stresses of learning to be independent, why should college students have to deal with additional pain caused by anonymous posts on the ACB? They shouldn’t.
Which brings us to earlier today, when College ACB became Blipdar, “the world’s leading website for venting, sharing, and being yourself.” To tell you the truth, the new layout encourages anything but that. The whole main page looks like a cheap pop-up, and when you dig deeper, it doesn’t get much better.
All of the former College ACB threads have been transferred to the new Blipdar, and thankfully, cyber bullies might think twice before slandering their classmates. This is not because Blipdar includes a conscience for users, but because it’s tough to figure out how to actually make a post. Some of the old HTML gets in the way, so it’s hard to make out exactly what the original thread is about. For instance, someone previously wrote on the Northeastern board, “Okay we all know there are some of these [people] that are total sluts….name em’r<br>r<br>Maybe this way all the closet cases trolling this site will know who to look for.” So should a user choose to do something they will regret and actually post in this thread, they must first figure out what these options mean:
If they do get through these tests and finally get to post their reply to the thread, the user then has to fight the clock because the site crashes every 3-5 minutes. Are college bullies equipped to deal with this? Probably not.
So why is Blipdar an improvement from College ACB?
There are actually a couple of redeeming features. The first is that the complicated nature of the new site will make it tougher for students to slander each other. The next is that Blipdar includes positive topic categories: Users can choose to post in “General, Global News, Sports, Television, Movies, Travel, Dining, Health and Wellness, Technology and Computing, Community Gossip, Community News, and Employment.” Hopefully these categories will drive Blipdar toward more constructive comments, leaving behind the Juicy Campus/College ACB peer gossip.
So how will this affect Boston?
Unlike most schools, we Boston students didn’t just have to worry about our classmates posting about us: Students from other schools seemed to really enjoy doing so. Harvard, for instance, rarely had actual student gossip posts. Instead, they had this:
MIT is no stranger to cyber bullying from other schools. One thread claims, “Carnegie Mellon Architecture Coming To Visit. Heads Up MIT.” BC, BU, Tufts, and Northeastern generate more gossip among students, but hopefully each will benefit from the complicated and unappealing new College ACB, Blipdar.
Since 2009, users have been urging the fluctuating College ACB managers to take down the site. Check out the comments on the blog kept by original owner, Peter Frank. Maybe their prayers will be answered, although accidentally, by Blipdar and its new approach to college gossip.
Do you think Blipdar will change the reputation College ACB made for itself to a more positive one, make bullying worse, or have no effect?